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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    July 18, 2011
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

financial firms can be used to promote market discipline and taxpayer protection effectively without any for secured creditor haircut spent with respect to taxpayer protection, these reforms embodied in the broader package of dodd-frank reform will help avoid future taxpayer bail outs in the first instance by limiting the probability that a large interconnected financial firm would fail during periods of stress. and then by reducing any such there. the dodd-frank reform will also promote more effective market discipline by compelling major financial firms to internalize the full range of risks associated with their failure. which should give those firms in sydney to reduce this risk by forcing creditors of those fronts another stakeholders to bear costs of a steady. with respect to orderly liquidation authority, the report acknowledges the greatest we gather ola will fill to address the unique challenges posed by failure of the major financial firm and the ability to mitigate the impact of the
failure of such firms. the report also acknowledges that in those cases the existing bankruptcy code provides an appropriate framework for resolution of nonfinancial firms and intends to remain the comment method by which it -- is for the recognize that ola by statute protects the contractual right of secured creditors in any of the same weight as the bankruptcy code while adopting some of the flexibility of available to the fdic. finally, the study recognizes the consistency and creditor treatment, wherever possible, in general it's perceived the market could into that and acknowledges that the fdic has recently initiated an ongoing rulemaking effort to promulgate regulations that satisfy statutory directives that further harmonize treatment of creditors in ola with treatments under other u.s. resolution mechanisms, including perhaps
most importantly. thank you. >> thank you, mr. booker. questions, comments, observations? very nicely done. do i have a motion to approve this study? second? all in favor? any opposed? excellent. to final procedural matters. i want to present to the council for consideration the draft minutes from the meeting, our meeting at may 24. you all have had a chance to look at those. any questions or comments on the minutes? motion to approve? second? all in favor? thank you. i want to present to the fsoc draft minutes from a meeting we held on july 13.
they were also circulated in advance to any comments or questions, suggestions on those minutes? motion to approve? second? all in favor? thank you. before we adjourn, any other items members of the council would like to raise? i need a motion to adjourn. second? thank you all very much. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> you have been watching the financial stability oversight council created by one of the provisions of the dodd-frank
financial regulations law. if you want to go back and watch any portion of this, you can always find us online at the c-span video library. in about an hour the chairman of the nuclear regulatory commission, will be speak at the national press club here in washington and we will have live coverage here on c-span2. >> the senate also cavils in today at 2:00. after dinner speeches lawmakers will return to military construction and veterans affairs spending. a judicial nomination will be voted on at 5:30 p.m. with live senate coverage here on c-span2. as negotiations continued off the floor on raising the debt ceiling deficit reduction, the house of preparing legislation aimed at the debt, deficit and balancing the federal budget.
the rules committee looks at that measure today at five and you can watch that on c-span3. >> have you ever visit the library of congress. over to me and people have and now this is your chance to tour the world's largest library. tonight, join c-span for a rare glimpse inside the library of congress. we will take you inside the great hall and explore the main reading room. you will find unique books and the rare books and special collections. including original books from thomas jefferson's personal collection. we will see how the library is using modern technology to discover hidden secrets and to preserve its holdings for future generations. join us for the library of congress tonight at 8 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. >> tonight on "the communicators" sec commissioner robert mcdowell on the sec's actions this week begin cracking down on unauthorized service charges on consumers phone
bills. >> governors from more than 30 states, commonwealth and territories gathered this weekend in salt lake city for the 103rd annual national governors association meeting. one of the session saturday and involved a discussion on u.s. border security efforts as well as lessons learned from september 11 in protecting communities. we will hear remarks from the u.s. customs and border protection deputy commissioner as well as the president for the center for national policy. governor jan brewer of arizona and governor martin o'malley of maryland co-chair the special committee on homeland security and public safety. >> and we'll showed as much of this as we can enter the chairman of the nuclear regulatory commission starts his remarks which are expected shortly.
>> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> good morning, everybody. the meeting of the national tvernors assocation special committee on homeland securitysl on public safety is now called to thank all of you for joining us today, and good afternoon to you all. the books for this meeting was sent to governors in advance ade agenda, speakers, biographies,
and background information. to my left is heather, the director for the nga special committee on homeland security and public safety. please see her if you need copies of any of the material or any other assistance. heather is available to brief you on homeland security, homeland defense, and other pape -- public safety issues. the proceedings of this committee are open to the press and all meeting attendees. as a consideration, please take a moment to ensure that your cellphone and all electronic devices are silenced. today's meeting is split into two panels for the purpose of discussion of two very important issues. the first, the united states custom and border protection strategies and operations, to secure our borders. and the resiliency of our citizens and communities in the
wake of disaster. our first panel will first focus on the department of homeland security is efforts to secure the border. let me begin by saying that each day over 58,000 customers and border protection officials, including border patrol agents, place their lives on the line to secure nearly 7,000 miles of the united states land border with mexico and canada. and 95,000 miles of coastline. these men and women not only provide for our safety and security, but they also work to protect our jobs, our economy, and our livelihood. with the 10th anniversary of september 11 rapidly approaching, we are focusing on how far we have come since the tragic day.
we are no doubt safer than what we work, but we are certainly not free from threats. many have fought constantly to enter our borders with the sole purpose of attacking us. on a given day cvp apprehends nearly 1300 illegal entrants are caught at official ports of entry. or 600 persons have been denied entry and over 11,000 pounds of goods have been seized. more than 80 fraudulent documents at approximately $400,000 in counterfeit currency. the men and women of cvp are the first line of -- against thieves -- first line of defense ieves and threats.
despite the dedication of border control and other cvp personnel, my own state of arizona is concerned with the security of our national border and the impact of illegal border crossing and smuggling on our communities, economy, and overall safety. we have seen with our own eyes some of the violence across the border move north into arizona, such as with the death of border patrol agent brian terry. i believe my concerns regarding the safety and security of americans are very similar to those throughout the southwest and elsewhere across our country. i love our law-abiding neighbors in mexico and countries further south. buti want the u.s. to be as secure as is reasonable from harm that can come from
international lawbreakers and criminals that pose a constant and serious threat to the well- being of our nation. the president recently agreed to extend the commitment of the national guard troops along our border, but more has to be done to protect our communities. if i look forward to discussing this with our first panelist, deputy commissioner david aguilar of the united states custom and border protection. on our second panel this afternoon, we are focused on community resiliency. and how quick communities and individuals can recover after disaster strikes. this is especially important as natural disasters and other emergencies seem to occur with increasing frequency, causing massive damage. from the tornadoes in alabama to the floods in missouri to the wild fires in my home state of arizona, it is clear that
our communities will never be able to prevent disasters from occurring. while the federal government is able to resist -- assist in the recovery efforts, we must remember that response and recovery must be led by officials of the local level. it is up to the citizens and local communities to determine what they need and where it needs to go. i look forward to hearing from dr. flynn at the center for national policy and how we can foster our communities and our citizens can play more active role in disaster response and recovery efforts. before introducing our speakers this afternoon, i would like to turn to my co-chair, governor o'malley of maryland's, for the opening remarks. >> thank you very much for that great summation of what we will talk about today. there will be ever -- other
governors at the overlapping meetings that we have here at the nga in the beautiful state of utah. when there are other people here that are part of this important conversation. i want to thank you, governor burk, for making sure that this committee continued. -- governor brewer, for making sure this committee continued. this was created some years ago and there was some discussion about holding it back into -- how many are there? three or four committees. there are multiple committed -- committees that have the effect of dealing with legislature during the sessions. but i want to thank you, governor brewer for making sure we continue this. when an emergency happens, especially large-scale
emergency, the people look to us to make sure that public safety is guarded and protected, that we have recovered and we are prepared. whether that is in response to incursions across the border, or terrorist attacks, or hurricanes or the like. i want to thank you for keeping this committee going. we also have general -- the general from washington state who is with us, as well as the director of public safety in utah, and betsy martin from the department of homeland security. we also have governor fortuna, who was with us last time from puerto rico. a place that keeps one eye on the hurricane allen. -- hurricane alley every single year. governor, thank you for being part of this conversation. i am from the city of baltimore, maryland, where we have been doing a homeland security since 1814.
we have always placed a premium on being prepared, being resilient, not sitting back and assuming that our national government can protect us. we believe that the security of our city or our state is one of our most important responsibilities that we have as citizens. as we come up on this 10-year anniversary of 9/11, this is an opportunity not only to remember all of those feelings that we had 10 years ago when our country was attacked from all -- was attacked, but also to reflect on what we have accomplished to make our homeland more secure in the meantime. but we should also ask ourselves what more we can do now to help the county, state, country become more prepared. -- become more resilience. since the day of 9/11, a lot of progress has been made on making communications more
interoperable for all of our first responders. the successful mission in pakistan recently that seal team 6 completed in bringing justice to osama bin laden. but there is so much more that we need to do in bringing response, prepared this, -- dness, prevention. we would like to prevent every homicide from ever happening. but every unit has prevention as well as apprehension because there is no way to ultimately prevent some of these bad actors from getting through. but the most important defense we have is one another. and we are a citizenry that is taking action. i will turn it over to you to talk about border security.
>> thank you, governor o'malley. let's turn to our first panelist. we are very pleased to have deputy commissioner david aguilar from the department of homeland security. he also serves as chief operating officer, overseeing 57,000 employees, and managing and operations budget of more than $11 billion. prior to this position, mr. aguilar served for more than 30 years with border patrol and was named chief of the border patrol in july of 2004. as chief, he has had over 20,000 border patrol agents across the country under his command. and he oversaw activities between the port of entry on our northern and southern borders. in march, 2004, mr. aguilar was
designated the border security integrator for the execution of the arizona border control initiative. the same year, mr. aguilar was also elected president of the southern arizona executive association. thank you for being with us here today. we are very interested in your comments. >> thank you, governor. i must say that as a young man being raised in south texas as an individual actually raised on the border of our great united states and one who has spent over 33 years serving our country and protecting the border of the united states, it is, indeed an honor to be here today to speak to the governors of these great united states about the state of the borders and what is occurring along our nation's borders. the fact that it became dhs is something very personal for us. it is because of the attacks we
suffered on the horrendous day of 9/11. we have come a long way. as governor o'malley said,we have had some tremendous achievements and successes that we can all be proud of. but even with osama bin laden being there, we still have -- being dead, we still have four vulnerabilities, threats, and risks that our nation will continue to face on an ongoing basis. that is why it is critically important that we maintain the focus, the vigilance, and the efforts to protect our country. and that is what the men and women of our u.s. customs border protection today in and day out -- do day in and day out along our northern border, southern border, and maritime borders. i will speak briefly to how we carry out these operations, how they contrast to what we did before 9/11, and the value of what we do every day in protecting this great nation. one of the things i think it's critically important for all of
us to understand is that the theory of a thought, or theory of approach to protecting our nation changed dramatically on 9/11. on 9/11, we woke to those horrendous visuals that we had on our television sets. we were devastated by what we saw. but all of us that were concerned to then, and continue to be concerned now with border security, were even more concerned and devastated about what we did not know, we did not know well and had to do to better protect our country. if some of the things we did in the immediate was what we called pushing out the borders, something that had not been done in the past. to the effect that we have now become managers of information, managers of intelligence that is -- managers of criticality that we can use to protect our country. programs such aspartnerships in
trade against terrorism that is a private-public partnership between the ford global supply chain that brings trade to our borders, to ensure that at any opportunity -- every opportunity we keep bad actors from coming to bear on our global supply chain. programs such as our customs csi, customs security initiative -- container security initiative, where we have officers deployed at 80 -- 86 different ports of entry where they will screen 85% of the containerized cargo before it even leaves the port of that nation. we have over 247 last point of departure throughout the world. there are more people, more cargo and transportation abilities targeting the united states. at the time we have targeting
capabilities that will take information intelligence and all other kinds of flow that we have amounts the international -- amongst the international intelligence community to basically target any actor that is coming toward our country. in its simplest form, what's cvp and dhs do is keep bad people and bad capabilities from coming into our country. we do this by operating in our ports of entry with over 21,000 customers and border patrol officers that on a daily basis inspect close to 1 million people coming into this country. about 700,000 of them come through our land border ports of entry. about 250,000 come through the airports. we have over 50,000 containers a
day that come into this country. through our maritime ports of entry. every one of those containers, every one of those persons coming into this country are basically screened by way of watch list and information and intelligence that we have in order to ensure screening of the people coming into this country, the containers coming into this country, to mitigate the risk of anything bad coming into our united states. we do this by way of partnerships with other governments. if we do this by ensuring that our people were trained up to the best levels that we have and we do this by building relationships throughout the world.
in addition to what we do in the air environment and the maritime and armand, we have now -- environment, we have now doubled our security at ports of entry. we now have over 20,000 border patrol agents patrolling our borders between the port of entry. this coming year -- this year, we will get another 1000 border patrol agents between ports of entry. in the last four or five years we have also added a tremendous amount of infrastructure to our borders between the ports. we have built over 650 miles of fence, border barriers, that is a tremendous asset to our southern border. we have added a tremendous amount of technology that we continue to add on an ongoing basis, technology that gives us the ability to detect, identify, and classified any kind of border incursion between our ports of entry. this is the kind of capability that we did not have enough of right around the 9/11 timeframe.
but because of all the things that we have done, america is safer. it is a much more secure border. it is a stronger border. it is a more economically viable border because of the safety that we bring to our ports of entry. one of our biggest concerns is insuring the global supply chain is intact, continues to operate with fewer threats, and therefore, our partnerships with other countries are critically important. the outcome of what we have added and we have done, we have now basically ensured that our border communities are safer and that the crime rates along our nation's borders have fallen dramatically. in san diego, in tucson, in el paso, and in mcallen texas, a
17% decrease in violent crime in san diego. 22% decrease in tucson. 11% decrease in mcallen, texas. and a 36% decrease in violent crime in el paso. in el paso in the last 10 years since we increased our capabilities along the southern border, a passover is virtually next door to what has been called the most -- el paso is virtually next door to what has been called the most violent city in the world, lorez, mexico. over 3400 murders -- juarez, mexico. over 3400 murders in the last year in juarez. in el paso, only 10. and none of them related to any cartel or drug trafficking. that says a lot about the security of our border.
by coincidence, there was in "usa today" -- there was an excellent ride up recently, a 2.5 page write-up of our southern borders. it talks about the chief of police greg allen, the sheriff in el paso, the chief that i worked with when i worked in tucson, the chief of police in true love as such, calif. -- in chula vista, california. that is 7 miles from the border. all of them speak of the frustrations along the much saf they speak about what has been put out on both sides. unfortunately, there's a tremendous amount of violence south of us in mexico. the government in mexico and
our law enforcement partners are putting up very tremendous and heroic efforts in mexico to do everything they can to basically, stem the violence that is occurring. by way of capacity building, partnerships, intelligence and information sharing, wecapacity way of intelligence and information-sharing we are working closer than ever before. we are working better than i have ever seen in my over 33 years of service. our borders are safer. are they completely safe? no. as governor o'malia says, every one of us that wears a badge, that carries a gun, that takes an oath of office, does so in order to prevent any crime from happening against our citizens. but reality is, we are a human race. we will continue to see acts of violence. that our job is to continue and be relentless to drive that
violence down, to protect our borders and ensure that our border communities and, therefore, our country be as safe as possible. with that, governor, if any questions that you might have, i would be very happy to answer. >> thank you very much. that was very concise and a very good description of what we all believe, i think, of what's taking place in regards to our border. and i do have a few questions. i would like to ask if i may. and then turn it over for a few minutes for the other governors, if there are any other questions. and i do have some questions that i don't know, mr. aguilar, if you will have the answers or not, but if you don't you can give them to me in writing. i know we have discussed a lot of these questions and these answers at different times, at different places. but i have talked in my earlier
comments in regards to some of the apprehension data that has been compiled on the federal level for the year 2010. and what i'd like to know is what -- what kind of data do we have now concerning 2011? i would like to know, basically, how many people have been apprehended for illegal entry into the united states on all our borders, if you have that information. >> absolutely. >> commissioner, you might want to press that button here. >> this one here? absolutely, a question that i think will bring some context and i think i'll place it in context by stating the following. the peak year of activity that we had for illegal cross-border incursions was fiscal year 2000. in fact, it was my first year as chief of the border patrol in arizona when i got there. in that year, there was a total of 1.6 million apprehensions of
illegal crossings between the ports of entry that the united states border patrol made. this year, we are sitting at about 257,000 in total. we're about two months out from the end of the fiscal year. that represents an 80% decline from the peak year of apprehension. of those 257,000 we have apprehended -- >> all borders? >> that's the southwest border and the northern border, yes, ma'am. >> and the coastline. >> and the coastline, yes, ma'am. >> all of which 106,000, about 42% of those are apprehended in arizona. within arizona, there are approximately 46, 4700 border patrol agents that operate between the ports of industry and about a thousand cdpo officers. gun, i think that placing it in context an 80% decline from our peak, one of the things i think
that is of interest for the governors especially is that the demographics of the people crossing are the following because i think it's again of interest. the criminal aliens crossing into the united states now -- and now i'm focusing on arizona, in 2006, there was a total of about 7400 hardcore criminal aliens that were apprehended trying to come into the united states that had probably been deported from the u.s. before had been involved in some kind of violent criminal activity. last year, the last full year that we have for violent crime statistics of crossers into the united states, that number fell to about 2700. so even though dangerous criminal activists, even those numbers have fallen as we begin. this year, we are experiencing a 44% reduction in arizona specifically of illegal cross-border incursions.
that's just arizona specifically. across the entire quest border, we are experiencing a 31% reduction of illegal cross-border crossings. >> how many people have come across the southern border of arizona that are considered by the federal government that have terrorists hide and get arrested? and how do we come to get those figures? how do we know which ones aren't being apprehended? >> that's a very good question and i'll answer in the following manner because i think i spoke of this during my introductory presentation. one of the things that is critically important is that the u.s. government now has the capability of screening literally 100% of people that are trying to come into this country legally through our ports of entry, through our legal ports of entry and things of that nature, through our
airports. we keep out a lot of people such as the runs you described, the ones that match the databases and that we have intelligence on and things of this nature. as it relates to individuals coming into the country from special interest countries, not special interest aliens but from special interest countries that we believe have the nexus of terrorism, we have apprehended this past year less than one-tenth of 1% of the total apprehensions which is about 384 that we have apprehended. now, we must bear in mind that the 384 includes the whole universe, elderly individuals, young kids, all of those that basically make that universe that comes from those countries. so of the total number it's less than one-tenth of 1%. other than mexicans which includes anybody that we apprehended that is, of course, other than from the country of mexico account for about 13% of
our total apprehensions. >> that are classified as terrorists? that you know -- >> no, no. that's the whole universe of the people originating from those countries that are special interest to us. >> so they wouldn't be classified as terrorists? >> no, they wouldn't. >> what is the number coming into arizona that would be classified as terrorists. do you have that number available or is that something you need to get back with them on? >> i would feel comfortable making the following statement that i -- i do not know of a terrorist that has been apprehended coming through arizona. >> okay. >> i will double-check that and get back to you, but that is -- i feel very comfortable making that statement. >> do we have any plans -- and i concur that y'all have done a great job of getting the border -- the southern border somewhat contained in texas and in california. >> yes, ma'am. >> that has driven the pathway through arizona and that, of course, is our concern.
>> right. >> is that we're feeling the effects of all the illegal immigration and the criminal element that is coming through and we appreciate the fact that the amount of crime that has been committed closer to the border has been declining. and, unfortunately, reports have come back to me and i haven't documented it but i have heard from shaves in other counties that has indicated that it has risen. >> i would like your comments on that. >> sure. the issue of criminal activity -- i think the best thing we can do is put in context the negative statements that are made by some within the law enforcement community. now, they feel that what they're putting forth is information that needs to be put out. i know most of these
individuals. i worked with these individuals over the years. i think that the best thing that we can do is put in context the statements of not just one or two or three or four but of all the law enforcement community along the southwest border. so when we talk about a couple of statements made by individuals who say that the border is out of control or there is stillover violence and things of that nature, we must put that in context with the roberto oftons or the ralph ogdens of the world. a highly respected sheriff of the area or the clarence dudnicks of the world a highly respected sheriff in pima county and a chief of el paso. of the fellow sheriffs in south
texas who are basically saying this is a much more safer and much more secured border. as to the issue of what is occurring in arizona, again, i think it's important that we note the following. that there are things that i refer to as baseline flows of illegal aliens that will continue to come into this country as long as they believe they can cross illegally and gain employment in our country, they will continue to come. we will continue to apprehend and arrest every one of them but as long as that draw is there, there's going to be a baseline flow of individuals attempting to cross. in addition to that, and this is almost an embarrassing statement to make but i think it is a very valid and true statement, we must admit as a country that, unfortunately, tragically, and ironically this nation has a
thirst for narcotics. and as long as that thirst for narcotics is there, there will be a baseline flow of narcotics coming into this country. as we speak today, cbp, customs and border protection has apprehended 2.6 million pounds of narcotics this year. as ports of entry, the u.s. border patrol has apprehended 1.8 million pounds of narcotics. [inaudible] >> how -- >> how was narcotics go right now, as opposed to last year, it is pretty much even as compared to about 10 years ago it has risen. now, the good note there is that because we are not having to dedicate from an enforcement perspective as much time on the illegal cross-border incursions because illegal immigration has fallen, we are able to dedicate more time to the narcotics trafficking and, therefore, we are apprehending more, of course, we're taking a look what that outcome is, is it more cost
to it and things of this nature. so again i would actually put these things in context because i think it's absolutely critical. now, arizona, we're actually calling it our last stand on the southwest border because we feel confident that we have hardened reinforced and placed enough resources on the southwest border that if they try and come back at some of these other locations, we will have enough resources in place to basically hold the gains that we have made. we are very hurriedly trying to close down arizona for both illegal immigration and narcotics trafficking recognizing that what we do, not if, but when we do, there will be a reaction of probably around the coastlines, the gulf of mexico and the pacific and california that's why we're working -- and puerto rico, in fact. we are working with the coast guard and with fema in puerto
rico. in order to ensure, with jtf north that we are ensured to take on those actions because of the baseline flows that exist. >> mr. aguilar, and i appreciate your comments in regards to sheriff ogden who represents and has the county of yuma which is under control and i understand the other sheriffs, stupnick from nogales and i agree crime has lessened, if you will or illegal crossings have lessened, which is a good thing. that doesn't mean that it's under control and i know that there's been a general accounting office report testimony given that said that we had about 44% of operational control of the southwestern border and 44% of that, of
course, is probably arizona. so we are feeling the pain. i think anybody that has read the newspaper or watched the news or listens, they realize that and it's not that we're not grateful for everything that's taken place, but somehow, some way, somehow we need to get better operational control of the border. >> absolutely. >> in arizona. and we talk about the employers wanting to have -- if you want to call it cheap labor, well, we got upheld in the supreme court the bill out of arizona and we're grateful for that. we went after the employers. we don't need to hire these people. they don't need to cross our borders illegally and we will continue to do those kinds of things but yet -- and i know and you know that the federal government indeed has say don't travel through our desert because, you know, traveling at your own risk in our own desert.
we have a problem and we need to get operational control. when are we going to get our borders more secure? are we going to seek from the federal government more on national guard? we know again we got more national guard there. i got my tag -- where is he? where is he, ken? there he is. he's covering my border. yeah, thank you. and, you know, we're just not going to resist because we know there's going to be spillover. we see it. and if it's not on the border, we know where it happens. we know it's happening in pinellas county. and we know it's not only the civil rights of the people that are coming across because they want somewhere to work are being harmed by the heat if nothing else and by the drug cartels and the gun fights on the freeways so -- although we know it's
better but we are going to continue as i'm sure -- >> yes, ma'am. >> to get that control. do we see more technical more high-tech control coming to our border? we need help. >> yes. >> we need assistance and people can say it's better and the figures and the data all sounds wonderful but those of us who are living there, those of us who see on a daily basis what's taking place, we need more help. we need more people. we need more troops. we need our borders secured. >> absolutely. and that's what we're working towards, governor, very, very hard every day. a couple of things that i didn't cover that i think are important to cover because of the question that you pose. u.s. customs border protections have the largest civilian law enforcement enforce the in the world, 269 aerial platforms.
over 130 of those are dedicated in arizona. those fly day and night. we have seven manned aerial systems, two more coming. three of those are in arizona. we have the largest air fleet, the largest number of pilots in arizona. we have the largest number of border patrol in one given area of concentration. we have built the largest area of senses in that area. we have a tremendous amount of technology that is coming. by our estimates right now, by the end of 2014, we will have all of the technology that we need in order to basically cover the entire state of arizona. that's not to say that we don't cover a big portion of it right now. of the 1,000 new border patrol agents that are coming into service this year, the vast majority of them are going into arizona. but it's also critical to note
that there are other activities occurring. our partnerships with mexico, for example, working joint operations with our mexican partners with them operating in mexico and us over on the u.s. side. over 60 of the states' law enforcement agencies are our partners with us in actt, which is an operation that incorporates other law enforcement agencies to ensure we bring the greatest density of enforcement coverage in arizona. the national guard -- right now we have 363 national guard troops on the ground. we have more sensors coming, so it's a constant buildup of what we are doing in arizona. as i said earlier, when we bring arizona under control, not if, we will do so as quickly as we can. now, something that i think is critical here is the following.
this year, because of the drop in activity levels that we have seen, we figure that we will end up the year with apprehensions somewhere between 106,000 and 118, 119,000. when you compare that to the highest activity time in arizona, which was over 630,000 in fiscal year 2000, that has dropped dramatically. now, the reason why i use those figures throughout the state of california we have apprehended over 57,840 cross-border illegal aliens coming across. i feel comfortable making the following statement. that in california, people aren't complaining. that's not to say the 57,840 are an acceptable number because we are still working to drive that number down. in arizona, 106,000 right now.
what the proper number is for me would be zero. but as the governor said earlier, that's an impossibility. we are working towards it. we are working to ensure that what is crossing is being caught. and we cannot forget that the border does not begin and end at the line. the border actually begins at point of origin, point of transit to the border entry egress from the border and final point of destination. i'll close out this answer with the following. the demographics of the aliens that are being apprehended in phoenix, for example, tell a tremendous story. last year, 42% of the alien apprehensions that were being made in phoenix by the phoenix law enforcement community, not by us and not by i.c.e. were by people that had crossed in the united states within three days less than 30 days.
that means they were crossing immediately, 42% of them. this year, year-to-date, that figure has dropped to less than 20%. less than 20% of the people being apprehended in phoenix crossed within 30 days and under. the rest of them are people that have been in the country for longer than a year. that means people are not crossing like they were before. so as all of these things that come together that tell the tale of the status of our border. one thing that you mentioned that i think is also important, is how do we measure this. we have the term operational control. that was a very tactical term that the border patrol instituted that addressed the line. that line in the sand. it was critical that we used it. it was necessary that we used it. and it -- and it basically did what we needed to do in order to articulate the resources that we needed. what we are working on cpp and
dhs is a comprehensive and systemic border index that will take into account a comprehensive measure and third-party indicators that will give a true measure of border security. that goes beyond the jireceipt cal line and that transcends the border in a more of a homeland security manner than just a border security measure. we hope to have something that will give us that outcome by early next year. >> thank you. >> thank you. i probably have plenty of questions and i do appreciate your answers and your comments. and i do look forward to working with you. i will open it up if any of the other governors have any questions or comments. but i will say that the people of my state are not only concerned about the arizona
border, of course, they're concerned about all the borders. but we, unfortunately, are the recipients of what we consider a very porous, open border that's bringing violence into our state and, therefore, migrating not only into our state but out of our state into other parts of america. and we certainly hope that we do get resolved and most of the people in arizona can't understand why we can control other countries' borders and we can't control ours and why can't we get it secured. i know that there's no way we can seal. i know we've done it in texas, california but that tucson sector, i have flown over it, i have driven it. i've seen the trails and i've
seen the apprehensions and i've seen the ones that haven't been apprehended. and i have also experienced, as you have, of losing one of your border patrol guards. >> yes, ma'am. >> being killed. >> and the terrible effects that it is having on our state and on our country. so i do look forward to seeing the day when it is and it has been secured to the satisfaction of your -- your agency and the satisfaction of the people of arizona and of america. so i would open it up, if there's any other questions. oh, i didn't see this. governor? >> yeah, i have a few things that i would like to clarify. but to put some real perspective
on the work and the accomplishments and, mr. commissioner, i would like to commend you for the great accomplishments that is being achieved in securing our nation's borders. but with these numbers, do you have any grasp at all of how they relate to the actual numbers of people who attempt and do go across each of these borders? i mean, i believe you were talking here about the apprehensions. >> yes. >> the numbers. >> uh-huh. >> but can you put that in perspective with the numbers of attempted crossings and actual crossings? >> governor, that's a very good question because we have been attempting -- not only we but there have been many universities, institutions that have actually been attempting to basically identify what we refer to as the denominator, which is
that number of people that are attempting to cross our borders, we have good grasp on the apprehensions. we do not have a good measure on those attempting to cross. now, that is why we focus so much on measuring third-party educators that in a situation where there exists a high level or an elevated level of cross-border illegal activity, there are associated actions and crimes that you are. everything from high-speed rapes and to all level of cross-border encouragements. those are proxies that we measure that will tell us -- that will help us gauge the total numbers of people that are attempting to cross. we have been asked often, what percent of the people that we apprehend account for the total
number? we don't have a means of measuring. we're working on that now along with several high level institutions to include universities, that's what the communities tell us, what the crime stats tell us and our partners in law enforcement and social organizations, for example. at the peak in arizona, the social costs on local hospitals on the tribal nations that are on the border were horrendous because they had the support -- there was elevated levels of cross-border activities. they have also fallen dramatically. so we feel very comfortable engaging that the flow has fallen dramatically also. >> can i follow it up with a second question? >> yes, sir. >> i have two more questions. >> we all know that americans have given up a great amount of
liberty to feel secure especially in the area of travel. and the concerns as a governor and as a traveller is that the technologies continue -- that we continue to move into, and i see here that one of the statements i believe you made was we are now 100% possible screening at the borders. and i think a lot of americans are concerned with the technology that are now being deployed at the -- at the borders that they are a little more invasive and all that. i'd like to know if there's any real effort on the part of our department of homeland security and all the security agencies towards making more research into equipments that are a
little less invasive but perhaps just as effective or more effective? i mean, it bothers me a lot that because of our desire to be secure, that giving up more and more freedom and more and more of our liberty is something that i think we should be addressing, you know, for our nation? and the last question i was going to say, as you're probably aware that american samoa is probably the only jurisdiction that is outside of your border jurisdiction or the customs jurisdiction. and that brings its own problems because basically our border security falls on our own local capabilities. >> yes, sir. >> now, the areas where we don't have a lot of assistance there
is actually training our actual forces on the ground. my question there and my last question is, will your agency opening up your own training regiments to our agencies to be able to train so that they are just as competent as being a u.s. jurisdiction and in protecting that border and u.s. citizens and u.s. nationals that live in american samoa because i can tell you, the last incident we had of suspected anthrax took four days for the united states response to arrive and in four days, if that was an actual incident, it could have been wiped out. all 70,000 people just that easy. so i as governor is very concerned that we continue to try and find the right solutions
for protecting those americans and u.s. nationals living in american samoa because i think we can do just as good a job if we have the tools to do the job. and one of those tools is training, that we're not accessing -- being able to access at the moment. >> absolutely. and i'll answer -- >> we're going to leave the governors' meeting now but you can find it online in its entirety at, to take you live to the national press club here in washington for the meeting of the nuclear regulatory commission which is considering safety recommendations in the wake of the japanese nuclear plant disaster. you'll hear from commission chairman gregory jaczko talking about some of the lessons learned since the japanese earthquake and tsunami. you're watching live coverage here on c-span2. >> known greenhouse gas emissions producing electricity and could help address concerns about global warming. ..
>> and with it, the safety of nuclear power in the united states with which the nuclear regulatory commission is entrusted. just last week, the nrc released a preliminary report on the fukushima and industry and safety and planned preparedness. the industry is concerned about some of the recommendations might cost financially. some environmental groups do not believe any steps can make nuclear power safe enough.
it is with the news backdrop we are pleased to have the guest speaker here today. in may of 2009, president obama appointed the guest chairman of the nrc, where he served as commissioner since 2005. with a doctor in physics, he learned to navigate on capitol hill, first as a political science fellow for ed markey of massachusetts. the next one was science advisor to senator majority leader harry reid of nevada. incidentally, senator reid says he supports building new plans, and waste from the plan at yucca mountain. our guest was born in pennsylvania and we're pleased to have him here. also, i believe he's the first guest speaker who i learn is a member of the national press club and works for c-span. we are very happy to have that as well.
please give a warm welcome to nrc chairman gregory jaczko. >> i should say after that introduction, at least my wife will be happy with whatever i say today. i want to thank you for that introduction. i'm very pleased and honored to be here today speaking at the honorable institution. the national press club is a venue like no. it's been the center of journalism and news for more than 100 years. as i was doing some research preparing for this and my staff did a little investigation of the press club, they noticed it's historic emblem of that of an owl. which symbolizing wisdom, awareness, and long nights spent on the job. i won't claim wisdom and i'll let you judge my sense of awareness. but i can definitely relate to the long nights spent sleepless
on the job. as chairman of the nuclear regulatory commission, one the best aspects of my job is having the opportunity to lead a staff of nearly 4,000 talented, dedicated public servants. like any regulatory agency, we hear from all sides and all perspectives about both our own safety record, and that of the industry we regulate. we know we can always do better. and we always strive to do better. but i have absolute confidence and i believe that the american people should as well in the experience, expertise, and professionalism of the nrc staff. today i've brought three excellent representatives of that team with me. i'd like to introduce them to you. as you heard, michelle katz is someone that has a degree in nuclear engineers and has worked for the nrc for eight years. she currently serves as one of two senior resident inspectors
at the indian point nuclear power plant in new york. as the resident inspector, she's the eyes and ears. she and her colleagues are the frontline staff conducted by the agency and the days following the nuclear accident in japan. also with me is dan frumkin originally from the d.c. area and has a degree in fire protection from maryland. after working on fire protection programs for two nuclear plants, he's worked at improving fire protection plans all across the country for the nrc. he has been a big part of the nrc's efforts to make progress on the issue. finally, jennifer yule who's be with the agency for 18 years. he's a doctor from m.i.t. and the nrc helped provide her the opportunity to pursue the studies.
right now she helps make decisions on where the nrc spends it's research money, the best advances of science and nuclear safety. most recently, yule was part of the 24/7 operation team during the crisis. because of her expertise, she was asked to serve on the international energy agency fact finding mission to japan. these three outstanding professionals are representative was of the thousands of the individuals who workday in and day out to make sure we meet our responsibility for nuclear safety to the public. now i'm sure the recent events in japan and their implications for how we approach nuclear safety in this country are foremost on everyone's mind. since the events began to unfold four months ago, the nrc has taken strong and immediate actions to ensure the continued safety of the nation's nuclear power plants. in light of the events in japan, the commission has under taken a
systemic and methodical review of the nrc safety program. this review had both short and long-term components. and it has moved forward with a strong sense of urgency given the safety issues under examination. to spearhead the effort, the commission established a task force, made up of all of the agencies most experienced and expert staff. altogether, they represent more than 135 years of regulatory experience. surround it's review, the task force has had full access to all of the other staff and nrc headquarter and in the regions and the staff working in japan to assist the japanese government as they response to the situation there. as part of its review, the task force reached out to the federal emergency management agency to benefit from their expertise in emergency management, as well as
the institute for nuclear power, in order to understand the industrial respond to japan. initially, the task force considered information received from stakeholders and monitored international efforts and reports from the international energy and nuclear agency and other organizations. last week the task force completed the 90 day review, part of the short term reviewed, and submitted it's report and recommendations for the commission for it's consideration. in line with the nrc's commitment for transparency and openness, the commission has made this full report publicly available for everyone to see. the task force will also formally present the report to the commission at a public meeting tomorrow. i want to thank the members of the task force for their tremendous work. it's clear that their focus remain first and foremost on nuclear safety. and in particular, i want to acknowledge charlie miller, who delayed his retirement in order
to lead this effort. he still has hopes of retiring soon. but we're doing our best to talk him out of it. this task force developed a set of 12 recommendations. many with both short and long-term elements. they are recommendations needed to strengthen nuclear safety in this country. in it's review, the task force did not find any eminent risk to public health and safety from the continued operation of the nation's nuclear power plants. the task force was clear, however, that any accident involving damage to the reactor fuel and uncontrolled radioactive releases of the magnitude of fukushima, even one without significant health consequences is inherently unacceptable. this is the same reaction i've seen as i have attended meetings throughout the country and really throughout the world. quite simply, many of us who work in this field thought that this type of accident could not and would not happen again. so the challenge for the
congress, the industry, the public, and, of course, the agency is how to better ensure an accident like the one in japan will not happen in the united states. but like the doctors oath, we must ensure we do that in a way that does no greater harm to nuclear safety. i think that's something, and i hope to share with you some thoughts today about how i think we can do that. now as you can tell, i'm tremendously proud of the work of the task force. they have given us an excellent starting point with which to tackle this important question and challenge. over the next 90 days, just like the task force took 90 days to do their review, i call on the commission to do its job. to systemically and methodically review the recommendations in a public and transparent way, hearing from all of the relevant stakeholders. regardless of your view on the task force recommendations, this is is step that i think we can
all agree on. now this is by no means the first time we've contemplated significant changes to the approach to the nuclear safety. throughout the nrc's history, our approach to nuclear safety and security has necessarily evolved as new scientific information in operational experience have given us a better understanding of nuclear technology and its risks. although this process has primarily unfelledded incrementally through peace work and patch works along the way, the history of nuclear power has punctuated by several events that challenged old truths and upended our old understanding of nuclear safety and security. in 1975, the browns ferry fire occurred at a nuclear fire plant. it led us to rethink fire protection, an issue that we continue to work on today.
1979, three mile island accident led us to rethink a large number of safety improvements and approaches to safety at nuclear power plant. including a strong focus and emphasis on the control room and how people working in those environments could best deal with the challenges situation like the accident. of course, the september 11th, 2001 terrorists attack was another water shed event that caused us to dramatically rethink how we approach nuclear security in the country. these events led to dramatic changes in both how the nrc regulates and ultimately how the nuclear industry operates. changes that remain with us to this day. based on the task force analysis and recommendations, it is clear that the accident at the fukushima daiichi site is another such event. laying out the regulatory framework for the 21st century, the commission's task force has charted a path forward on how we can understood -- can
fundamentally strengthen the task force. they are too extensive for me to discuss today. they range from loss of power, flooding, venting of hydrogen, and emergency preparedness. they include proposed new requirements for nuclear power plants to evaluate and upgrade their seismic protection, to strengthen their ability to deal with prolonged loss of power. and ultimately, to develop emergency plans that specifically contemplate the possibility of events involving multiple reactors. throughout the report, the task force emphasizes that effective nrc action is essential in addressing these challenges and that voluntary industry initiatives are no substitute for strong and effective nrc oversight. in addition to these specific recommendations, the task force calls on the commission to redefine adequate protection in
light of what we've learned from fukushima. now for those of you who have not steeped in nrc parlance, adequate protection is likely not a familiar term. ultimately, our statutory responsibility is for safety. it's the touch stone of what we do as regulators. it is the standard of safety that the nrc must require nuclear power plants in other licensed fees in order to allow them to operate. over the last 25 years, there have been fewer occasions it has been deemed necessary to redefine the standard and what safety ultimately means. we did so after september 11th. now the task force, established by the commission, believes we should do so again. given the insights to the fukushima accident has provided about rare catastrophic events. while the decision to redefine the core definition of safety is one for the commission to make
by examining the task force recommendations, it's clear that fume shim ma was an accident and we need to take strong steps to make sure that type of accident does not happen in the united states. as we consider and respond to these recommendations, the commission has committed to involving public and our stakeholders in the process. at the nrc, we never forget that nuclear regulation is the public's business. and that we have the responsibility to conduct our work openly and transparently. since my very first speech after joining the commission almost seven years ago, i've emphasized that openness and transparency are indispensable ingredients to move forward. in order to move openly and transparently, i've proposed a road map on the action. the center piece of the proposal is a series of public commissioner meetings with the nrc staff and many stakeholders
who doubtly will have opinions about the task force report. and the lead up to these meetings, there would be an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback on the task force recommendations and for the nrc staff to provide additional information to the commission about their thoughts on the task force recommendations. i believe this approach will help ensure that the commission benefits from the information and perspectives that our stakeholders bring to the table. we are in a strong position today to be able to move forward quickly and effectively because the task force did an outstanding job with the tremendously challenging responsibility. the american public should be grateful and proud of the service that these members have provided. this task force has clearly done it's part in helping us to better understand what nuclear safety requires in a post fukushima world. now time for my commission colleagues and me to do our part. we have the responsibility to the american people to
diligently and exdishly preview to make the best recommendations to ensure the continued safety of the public. in light of the task force work, i see no reason why the commission cannot provide clear direction on each of these recommendations in less than 90 days. that is the time the commission gave the task force to do it's job, and i believe that is more than enough time for the commission to outline a clear path forward. now i don't think that means that the agency will be able to take final action on all of these matters. since certain of the recommendations themselves are requirements or changes to our regulations, that's in and of themselves may take months or years to develop. i believe we have enough information at this time to take the necessary interim steps on issues identified the task force and to initiate the longer term clangs to our regulation that is will allow for full and meaningful participation by the
public. in order to provide that clear direction within the 90 days, it's up to all of us to think about new ways to do things differently. that should not be unexpected, since these are not normal times for the nrc. we know changes are in order. all of us don't want to make rush decision, we must move forward by the urgency called for the by the safety issues. as chairman, i'm committed to ensure that the commission has all of the information it's needs to make timely decisions and take decisive actions to the response and task force recommendations. as i alluded to earlier, this is by no leans the first time we have under taken a significant reevaluation of what nuclear safety and security requires. nearly a decade, we embarked on
strengthening the plant after the 9/11 attack. while we move forward with short term changes, it has taken the industry and nrc20 years to fully develop the new framework. i believe it would be unacceptable for our current effort to take that long. that's why i'm calling today for the nrc and nuclear industry to commit to complete and implement the process of learning and applying the lessons of the fukushima daiichi accident within five years, by 2015. this will take a lot of hard work, strong and decisive leadership from the commission, and an even stronger commitment by our licensees to continue to make safety the number one priority. we ultimately have no other choice in this regard. i think the task force has provided an excellent start to this effort. i believe we are more than up to the task of seeing this effort through. because ultimately, this is not a challenge or problem for me or the members of the commission or
the agency or the nuclear industry. it is ultimately a challenge for all of us as we continue to ensure that nuclear power can be used safetily and securitily in this country. this is not an nrc problem or industry problem, it's ultimately a safety imperative. the american people are looking to everyone involved in nuclear safety from the operators to the regulators to the members of the public who participate in our process to do their part in continuing to protect the public. this is something that i think on which we must deliver. so with that, i thank you for your attention. i'd be happy to answer any questions that you may have. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> thank you. we do have a lot of questions together as in evidenced by the number of a fair number of working reports covering the story today. let's talk about the core of
your speech, so to speak. we'll ask which of the recommendations in the report do you think are the most urgent? >> i think the task force did a nice job of breaking the recommendations down into several different bins. there are a number of recommendations in which they recommended that we take immediate action. those that would require orders. some of which would be done through a longer term process like regulations. i can go through the list here, i think, of where they really thought the more immediate actions could be taken. during some of the clear areas. when you lose all electric power at the site. that's clearly a challenge that we saw in japan. the important of fully understanding the impact of natural hazards and flooding and earthquakes on a site. the importance of being able to monitor spent fuel pools and know and understand the
condition of spent fuel pools in the event of an accident. in short, perhaps, more appropriately, the real answer to this question is this is what the commission needs to work through in the next 90 days. is figuring out which of the these recommendations are most important, which do we want to implement on a short term time frame and which we want to complement on a longer term time frame. i think the task force has given us a good place to start. >> perhaps the question has already been answered by the speech. i came it before it was completed. you've been quoted by saying you want to fast track the recommendations. is that parallel to the comment of five years? >> i think in order to get to a decision in five year, we have to start somewhere. the place to start with the task force and their recommendations. the commission asks for this report and the staff was assembled to complete it. they did their job in 90 days. i think it's responsible for us to go through the recommendations and review them in 90 days. that doesn't mean we are done at
this point. many of the recommendations themselves sunlighted the need for longer term review and action by the commission. so i expect this will be begin the start of a process that i would like us to see have a goal of completing in five years. >> so as you say, they ask for this report to be created. the question is have you consulted with your fellow commissioners on the timelines that you've laid out and what do you think you have to do to gain a support? >> well, we've begun the process of consulting. i actually this morning had a meeting with my colleagues where we -- i laid out my proposal for us getting this first step done in 90 theys. -- days. i suspect we'll continue to have discussions over the next several weeks as we begin the process of reviewing the report. we begin tomorrow. we'll have a chance to talk about. i think this is an involved
process whenever we have the kind of sweeping changes to our regulations. it's important that we hear from stakeholders and a large number of people to make sure we move forward in an appropriate way. as i said, i believe we can act on these recommendations in 90 days. i think it is a responsible time frame. >> you are saying you believe you have sufficient support? >> well, we'll see. >> okay. okay. very well. it says you've -- you're talking about the 90 days. why is 90 day timeline so important if the questioner ask if there is no eminent threat to safety. >> i think as the task force laid out, there are a number of actions that should be taken in immediate time frame. that doesn't mean there's an eminent threat. if there was an eminent threat, we would be issues orders to shut down facilities. it's important to understand that's not what we are suggesting. again the process of any type of regulatory action that we take is invariably process that takes
some time. if it's a process that involves changing our regulations, that invariably will take a year or more to complete. and then following that, there's likely changes that the licensees would have to make. in the end, all of that can add up to several years or more. it's important, i think, that we begin with the simple task of reviewing the recommendations and the report and coming to a final decision on those. the other point that i would like to emphasize that if you look at the commission's schedule right now, the work that we have in front of us is varied. a big piece of that right now is looking at the licensing and potential review of new reactor licenses. for the first time in a long time in this country, right now we're on a schedule to complete those reviews sometime by the end of this year. and i simply think it would not be appropriate to go forward with the reviews if we have dispositioned the remits in the task force. we have to understand what they
will mean for new licenses. if we want to keep that work moving forward at a responsible pace, we have to come to some decision and resolution with the recommendations. >> since you brought up the question the applications, i'm going to ask a follow up to that. give people an idea of the landscape in the united states of how many nuclear plants are out there and how many essentially people would like to build now? >> we have 400 operating plants in the country right now. we have a number of applications in front of the commission to license new reactors. if you look at that group of applications, there's probably just a handful or fewer of plants that if they were to receive a license would move to construction. right now there's a plant in georgia, and a plant in south carolina where there is kind of preconstruction work going on to prepare the sites for the potential of a new reactor being licensed at those sites. it's really right now just a few plants that are moving forward
if they were to receive a license. >> okay. can you talk about visiting japan for the first time after the accident. what did you expect to see? and maybe on one hand, the technical things that you witnessed and the other hand the human things please. >> well, i had the opportunity to visit japan in a very early days of -- after about two weeks after the event had started. i went to tokyo on a very short trip to meet with my counterparts in japan and to see the team that the nrc had sent to assist the japanese government. probably of the most, i think, memorable moments for me during that event was just the effort and dedicate of all of the people who were involved in dealing with this very difficult situation. this clearly was a very challenging situation for the people of japan.
and to see people from the nrc, people from other u.s. agencies working there to help our japanese colleagues, i think, was just a real reinforcement for me about the strong bond that we have with our colleagues in japan. so i was very impressed with the efforts and the focus of people that were there and their dedication on all sides to try and work through what were some very difficult in a very challenging environment. >> how do you think they are doing? >> well, i think -- you know, ultimately, i don't think i'm in a position to judge. i don't think any of us can understand and appreciate the magnitude of the crisis and the magnitude of the challenge in japan. so what i think we can do best at the nrc is we can provide expertise as they requested, and help them best handle a very challenging situation.
you know, as i said, what i did see was a lot of people very dedicated to resolving what was a very difficult and challenges situation. >> clearly you are in a position to try to figure out what they did well and what they did not do well and apply that to the landscape in the united states. can you break that down a little bit as to lessons learned from that? and obviously to some degree, it's reflective in your recommendations, but specific to the japan situation, you see something, that was good, that wasn't so good. apply it to that, if you would please. >> well, i think right now the international community as a whole is working through that question. to try to figure out and understand what questions we've learned. as the task force laid out, clearly we all want to have a better understanding or make sure we have a good understanding of types of the natural hasrd that can impact any nuclear power plants. clearly, there's an appropriation that we want to be able to manage the situation in
which you lose all electric power to be able to manage that with more certainty and to maintain safety systems and instrumentation and control systems for a much longer period of time than our plants are generally designed for right now. so i mean there are some obvious lessons i think that we've seen so far. there will be more specific lessons that will be coming out of the work that was spearheaded by jennifer working with the iaea. so we'll learn more, i think, in the coming year that will give us more specifics about what kinds of things we need to change. clearly, we have to make sure we consider -- some of these things i talked about as well as of the impact of spent fuel pools indult -- ultimately, the fact that you could have multiple at the same time. these were novel challenges. i think our colleagues in japan responded the way they thought was best with a limited
resources that a large earthquake like that could present and the challenges of a dramatic, difficult situation. >> questioner asked, what in your opinion is the future of nuclear energy in japan after all of the trouble? >> i don't think i want to speculate on the future of nuclear power in japan. that's a decision that the japanese government and japanese people have to make. how they intend to move forward. my focus, and i think the focus for the nrc should be on ensuring that in this country, we continue to do what we need to do to expand the safety net, if you will, to make it bigger, to capture some of the things that may have been fallen through in japan. and that's what i think the task force did. >> uh-huh. do you think evacuation plans for people living near nuclear power plants are adequate? should you require plant operators and surrounding governments to conduct periodic
drills and evacuation of real people? >> right now we have a system of evacuation that's designed around two areas. one is a ten-mile area around the nuclear power plant where we plan and prepare for evacuations in the short term. beyond that, we have prepared and planned for the ability to take action to security food or other material that could lead to radiation being ingested in individuals from the aftermath of the accident. i think that forms a good plans basis for us for now. again, one of the things that the task force looked at, they made recommendations in the area. one of them was that the facilities in the short term need to make sure they can plan for the potential of a long term loss of lek power. until we address that recommendations to enhance our ability to deal with that situation, e want to make sure from an emergency planning
perspective, the operators and licensees are looking to see ways to address that type of situation. one the recommendations that the task force had as well was for the longer term review to look at how we consider the impact of multiple units having a challenge at one time and what kind of impact that might have on our emergency preparedness program. i think there's some things the task force told us we can do and things they told us we need to look at. fundamentally, we believe we have a system that is adequate to deal with the challenges as we know them. again, you know, i would remind people that in the event of an accident, if a very unlikely event of an accident were to occur, the appropriate steps would be taken and the licensees working with state and local governments to ultimately take the right steps to protection the public. that's the focus for our programs and i think right now we have a good basis. >> can you talk about sort of the specific recommendations on the power backup issue that you
made in your report? what people have to do right now, in other words, what's the current requirement, what you need immediately, and longer term what would be dare i say ideal? >> in the area for the loss of electric power, which is really an important area, the task force recommended two things. one they recommended that we begin immediately to change our regulations in two ways. one to really change the scope of how we deal with this loss of electric power. that was to ensure that we can at least cope with that for eight hours. then, in addition to that, if we were to get into a more severe scenario that you have an ability in an expended way to open for another 72 hours. that's very comprehensive, but important recommendation that the task force lend itself to longer term analysis that are change in our regulations would require. the second thing that they suggested was that we institute
an order right now to take equipment that we already have on site and basically ensure that equipment which could help mitigate the extended term loss of power, take that equipment and put it in places and locations in which it's more likely to be able to withstand the kinds of things we saw in japan. namely the potential for significant flooding, the potential for a significant earthquake. it's a two-prong approach. in the short term, we would better shore up the equipment that we have in place that performs a mitigation function if we were to get into the more severe situation. we couple that with a longer term effort to change the situation to deal with the situation for much longer than we have by requirement now. >> explain the why eight hours and why 72 hours. obviously, you made those decisions for a reason. >> some of them are the virtue of historical information right now generally nuclear power
plants respond in about -- required to cope for about four to eight hours to this loss of electric power as the task force did it's review. it looked at the issue and it found eight hours was an appropriate time to ultimately put the plant in a position in which they could take all of the other actions that would be needed to do this more extended -- extended period of coping. so, you know, the eight hours buys you the time that you need to prepare and set up everything else that you need to do to get that much longer 72 hours. again, you know, this is something which i think there will be tremendous debate and discussion about. these are the kinds of things that we want to hear from stakeholders and we want to have more refined analysis. which is why the task force, i think, recommended do this as part of the change to the regulation. that's how we get the input and feedback. >> the questioner asked to the best of your knowledge as anyone died or been seriously injured as a result of the accident in
japan. is there any prognosis on how the workers of the nuclear plant may have been affected overall? what do you know about the health effects? >> in general, members of the public for evacuateed and taken to reduce the impact of the accident. there are some workers who have received doses in excess of what we typically would look at for an emergency worker in a situation like this. but again, that's not necessarily unaccepted, given the challenges of the site. there have been a few workers who have received some skin exposures that are significant. but at this point, certainly nothing that appears to have any impact ultimately for immediate health impacts. so the challenges really are on,
you know, dealing with a population that displaced from their homes. which personally, i believe is often a missing or not discussed health or ultimately impact to people. being told to leave your home for extended periods of time is not something that any of us would want to deal with. and i don't think would consider that to be something that is of in impact. you know, when we talk about the health impacts, we don't normally talk in terms of the radiation. because of the robustness that we have in the nuclear field, they were able to be minimized. that's a good thing. you know, as i said, as i talked to people in the international community, as i talk to people in this country, i think there's no one that believes what happened in japan would be acceptable. that's why we have recommendations to help us work through that. >> question, we're here in the nation's capitol in the center, we're in an important neighborhood and zip code. people always want to know about
the players and how all of the different gears interact. can you talk about the nrc's relationship with the white house and how can the other government agencies help your efforts? how do they help your efforts? >> as an independent regulatory agency, we have an independent role here in setting nuclear policy. now certainly, during the events of the crisis of japan, there was a tremendous amount of coordination between the nrc and many different agencies in the federal government. in fact, the nrc staff who went over to japan did not go over as a nrc team, but team for aid and assistance. there are many people have that offered their help and assistance. while the nuclear may have seen many of the headlines, it wasn't necessarily the biggest piece of the u.s. response.
so in general what i have seen through interactions as chairman, we have worked collaboratively and cooperatively with white house and over federal agencies. there has been a very strong respect for the independent role of the nrc and ultimately making nuclear safetied -- safety decisions. >> someone has asking how do you determine the balance between the industry and agency itself? if we lived in an ideal world, industry would be self-policing, but maybe long-term experience across the landscape of the business world doesn't suggestion that's a dependable model. how do you see it working right now? how would you like to see it? >> i think in general the system works pretty well in this country. we have the nrc which has a responsibility to establish safety requirements, we have an industry which is then ultimately responsibility for
implementing those. it has the ability for safety. there's also an industry self-regulatory organization, which plays a role in providing excellence in the nuclear safety industry. i think we have many different pieces working on this. of course, we have the public. and i think one the things that i continue to be amazed by is the level of engagement and involvement that we get from members of the public on all of these issues. i think, you know, whenever you bring a lot of different views together, it's always more challenges to make decisions. but in the end, i think it's the right thing. this is a difficult area in which to make decisions and so by design, i think it's a system that's intend to be open and transparent and seek input from a lot of different stakeholders. that's what we start to do. >> from an horrible accident, there's an opportunity to
improve regulation? is that the benefit? the questioner makes the point, any press is good press, therefore, the negative might forge a positive. is that an opportunity that you are presented? >> i don't think there's anyone involved in this who would prefer not to have this opportunity presented to them. this is not something that, you know, we wanted to be faced with, nor the people in japan. so given the challenges in front of us, i think we have an obligation to the american people to do what we think is right. and i think as i said, that's a process that i think is going to need the involvement of stakeholders. and it's going to need to hear from the industry. as i said, we talk a lot about impacts. and the impacts of the changes that we as a regulator make. you know, as i talk to some licensee, one the things they impressed on me, as we make the
changes, it's important that we continue the safety opportunities for the country. there's not an eminent concern or threat with the sail. as we make the changes, we have to go about it in a systemic way, but also in a way that doesn't create unnecessarily challenges that would detrimentally impact the safety and facilities in the country. that's where we need to have the discussions and the understanding of right way to go forward. >> one more. are you surprised by the tone which lamented patch work of regulations. are things really that bad? >> well, i wouldn't say that patch work is a bad thing. what the task force is trying to say is looking back now with some degree of hindsight, when you put together the pieces of our regulatory system, what you find is that as there have been incidents, changes in modifications, and what i think
this task force did, which i really applaud them on they took a look at this from a big picture perspective. and realize that you know what, there maybe a better organized principal now for all of the changes that we've made over the years. i don't view that as necessarily a bad thing. it's simply a recognition that as issues have come up, we've addressed the issue. there have been maybe enough issues now that some themes and trends have developed. what the task force said was that really incidents in the country fall into two categories. there's thing that is we want to make sure the plants protection against. the so-called design bases. we want to make sure they can withstand earthquakes and flooding. there may always be earthquakes or floods that we haven't envisioned. and so we have to have something beyond that which we talk about as our -- what they've termed an extended design basis. they look at the things that the commission did. what, in fact, it had done it had added on additional
requirements and regulations. and that presented and created that patch work. but it wasn't -- it's not necessarily a problem. it's simply the historical development and nature of what we do. so now we have an opportunity to take all of those things and put them into some more consistent bins that as we go forward would provide new regular -- regulations and requirements. it will give us a sense of which one of the bins it falls in. and the things you need to do for safety as opposed to those thing that is are dealing with the mitigation and the effects of the design basis that you can quite consider. >> as we know, germany has voted to completely shut down it's nuclear reactors by 2022. is that an over reaction? and do you expect to see potentially other countries following suit? >> well, as i said, my focus is
first and foremost here on the u.s. and making sure we have the appropriate reaction in this country to the events in japan. ultimately, i think it's up to the german people and government to decide what's appropriate for them given their situation and circumstance. >> do you think other countries may follow? >> i don't know. it's hard to say. what's important is here in the united states to take the task force and work through them. i think every country that i've seen is taking some kind of approach to address the situation in japan. ultimately, if the approaches were opposed on nuclear safety, in the end about the long term prospect for nuclear process. >> as a scientist, you see them juggle the energy needs, is nuclear a necessary part of that balance? >> i think the day i took the
oath of office to be a commissioner, i stopped having opinions about that. ultimately, my job is nuclear safety. and there's a lot of people in washington, throughout the country who have a lot of good ideas about what our energy mix should be. what our approach to energy should be. i would humbly defer to them and know my focus is on safety. that's where our approach will be. >> we'll ask you that a few years down the road. >> sure. >> there's news about the food supply and cattle being contaminated and so forth. is that to be expected under the circumstances? >> again, i think the levels of contamination are measurable. there's no -- they are not levels that are immediately harmful to anyone. but i think as you deal with a situation like this, there's always going to be the challenges of maintaining and communicating with people who
are producing the food. that's why in this country, we have an ingestion zone pathway. we prepare and preplan to be able to do the -- take the appropriate actions for life -- livestock and food production that could allow radioactivity to get into the food supply. any system that you have is going to have challenges. that's part of why there's monitoring and work to ensure the integrity of that food supply. >> yucca mountain. we had a lot of questions about it here today. i've tried to boil it down. it seemed to be boiled down in one of the questions that i had takes a legal approach. the federal appeals court sternly said in a ruling earlier, that the nrc must act for nuclear waste to store in yucca mountain. he's asking for she is asking will the nrc act and what must be done essentially to move
forward on that? what becomes of the application process from this point on? >> i can't comment too specifically on this. because this is an active matter in front of the commission. the legal question. certainly read the opinion from the court and the commission has that and is deliberating on the issue. >> what are the options for long term storage that are out there? >> well, the secretary of energy has appointed a blue ribbon commission to examine the options for long-term storage in the country. that's something they have a focus on. for the nrc, our focus ultimately as i said earlier is on safety and security. we've taken a good look at the fuel that's out there. we believe it can be maintained safely and securitily. for at least 60 years beyond the time that a plant would shut down. which generally gives you about 100 years or more of safe storage and secure storage.
and in fact, a commissioner just last year went one step further and asked the agency and asked our staff to begin exploring a period beyond that. maybe to two or three or 400 years to see if there was any immediate and safety issues that came out of that that could cause us to do something differently. that's something we've engaged on and will be worked on in the next few years to do that. right now we don't see an immediate concern with the safety and security. >> extreme weather, seems as if we are seeing more of it. does that present greater risk to nuclear out there? if so, is that embodied -- the response embodied in the recommendation? >> that's precisely one the recommendations is to make sure we have a good understanding of the natural phenomenon that can occur. the way we've always looked at is it to look at what we think the worst thing that's happened historically. and make sure the plants can be designed to deal with that kind
of hazard. of course, as we get new information, as we get better ways to understand and predict what could happen from natural phenomenon, we also want to revice and update our requirements. in fact, the commission prior to the events in japan was working on re-examining two fundamental issues that deal with natural hazards. one has to do with earthquakes in the central and eastern part of the united states. the potential that our understanding wasn't as good as it was when we initially licensed the facilities, and the other had to do with flooding. and the potential for more significant flooding than we had planned on. again, it doesn't mean any of those is going to require changes to the facilities. there's no immediate concern. it just shows we are constantly learning. where we get new information, we work to apply that and complement it. >> those of us who are old enough to remember can remember
in the late 70s and 80s, there was protest. a person is referencing what they are seeing out there today. and i guess ultimately, the question is what do you think is the level of support for nuclear power. is there -- as a follow up, is there an increased level of opposition in the united states as a result of the japan disaster? >> boy, that's a difficult one for me to answer. a lot of people do polling to answer these questions. generally i see -- mostly i read these in the newspaper. there's probably i'd say there's support for nuclear power in the country. and but i think there's concern about there's opposition as well. i had a chance, actually, a few months ago to go up to the indian point nuclear power plant which is a plant in new york that has a lot of public interest. and outside the gate of the plant were about four or five or maybe ten people who were
protesting and there partially because i was visiting, i think. and i held a press conference, toured the plant, visited the plant, on the way out, i got out of the car and stopped and talked to the folks. what i find in general, there are lots of people who have legitimate questions about the safety of nuclear power. ultimately, i think it's the job of the nrc to make sure that we take the appropriate steps to ultimately ensure safety of the public. and in the seven years that i've been at the nrc, six years i've been at the nrc, what i found is that the people that work at the agency are dedicated everyday to doing that and making sure we protect public health and safety. it's what we do. and i've just been impressed to see it in so many different ways as a commissioner and then now as chairman. >> very well. i'll just ask you to stand by and we have a couple of last housekeeping matters to take care of.
i'd like to remind the audience about upcoming speakers. july 28th, michele bachmann, will be out here. august 19th, governor gary johnson, former governor of new mexico and also presidential candidate. ray lahood, and in early november tom brokaw will be here. secondly, i'd like to present our guest with our traditional mug. >> thank you. >> one last question. i can remember grows up there are any number of movies that demonized, and in the modern we have simpson, homer simpson works and doesn't always have the level of education that you bring to the podium. when you see those particular portrayals, does it bother you?
what's your reaction to it? >> well, and i wouldn't say it bothers me at all. i think "the simpson" are funny. it's the job of the nrc to communicate about what we do. i think -- i know the people that work at the nrc are dedicated to nuclear safety. they are tremendously talented group of people. and, you know, as i look down at the nuclear power plants in the country, they are dedicated people at those plants as well. that doesn't mean we don't have disagreements and differences. i think in the end, you know, if everyone does their job right, and committed to nuclear safety, we'll get there. >> how about a round of applause for our guest speaker? [applause] [applause] >> i'd like to thank you all for coming here today. i'd also like to thank the national press club staff, including the library and organizer for the event. find more information on our web
site at you can find a copy of today's program and streaming of future events on there as well. thank you very much. we are adjourned. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> you can find the conversation
online in it's entirety at the c-span video library. the senate returns from the weekend recess now to continue work on fiscal year 2012 veterans and military construction spending. that debate resumes at 3:30 p.m. and at 5:00, the chamber will take up the nomination of a u.s. district judge for the southern district of new york. a vote on the nomination today at 5:30 p.m. eastern. live now to the floor of the senate here on c-span2.
the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. father in heaven, our sustainer and friend, as our senators deliberate over challenging legislative issues, infuse them with insight, energy, and patience. as they face relentless pressure from constituents, lobbyists, and special interest, give them strength and courage to do the right as you give them
the light to see it. resolving differences without rancor and bitterness, let their lives model the unity of heaven. of and your kingdom. lord, lead them in the way of compromise that doesn't sacrifice principle or self-respect, preserving timeless values which are ethical, just, and equitable. teach them to respect each other and your image which can be seen in humankind. we pray in your holy name. amen.
the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, july 18, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tom udall, a senator from the state of new mexico, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: following any leader remarks, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 3:30 this afternoon. following that morning business, the senate will resume consideration of of the military construction-veterans affairs and related agencies appropriation bill. at 5: p.m., the senate will vote -- i'm sorry, will go to executive session to consider
the nomination of j. paul oetken and at 5:30 there there be a roll call vote on confirmation of that nomination. h.r. 2018 is at the desk ask due for a second reading, i'm told. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: h.r. 2018, an act to amend the federal water pollution control act to preserve the authority of each state to make determinations relating to the state's water quality standards and for other purposes. mr. reid: in order to object to any further proceedings, mr. president, with this bill at this time. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the bill will be placed on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14. mr. reid: mr. president, senate democrats sat down with secretary tim geithner and the picture he painted is as follo follows.
that is a picture of what our world would look like if the republicans in congress force this nation for the first time in its history to default on its financial obligations. the picture was really grim. this is how he described the state of our government. the state of our government if congress allows this unprecedented default. his quote -- "light's out." he said default would result in a complete -- quote -- "loss of capacity to function as a government." even those who believe government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub have to admit of a total shutdown even the most basic and essential function of government is very, very scary. wouldn't be good for the american people and it certainly wouldn't be good for our economy. the senate has no more important task than making sure the united states continues to pay our bills and preexisting obligations like social security. now, i've spoken to the
president's office today. i actually had a phone call scheduled with him and we've scheduled for later but i've talked to his people and he understands the importance of our meeting our responsibilities that we have. and because of that, we're going to stay in session every day, including saturdays and sundays, until congress passes legislation that prevents the united states from defaulting on our obligations. i've spoken to the republican leader. he understands the necessity of our being in. we have a lot of things to do. not as many things as normal but extremely important things that are going to take time. so i know it may be inconvenient to have people rearrange their schedules. this means saturdays and sundays and mondays. we have to be in -- in session continuously. secretary geithner described how 80 million checks cut by the treasury every day -- that is,
80 million checks every day -- would likely simply stop coming. the federal government would, in effect, go dark. paychecks for troops in afghanistan and iraq and based around the world could stop. f.a.a. towers could shut down. so could the f.b.i. and the c.i.a., border crossings could close, safety inspections of food americans eat and cargo that enters our ports could halt. literally every function of government could cease. social security checks, payments to our veterans. we've heard that before. there would be no discussion of which operations and personnel were essential. all the payments would very likely stop. some have said we could prioritize which bills to pay. even if that wouldn't irreparably damage our nation's reputation and credit in the global economy and the globe at community, which it would, is also a complete fiction. our government won't even be able to cover the bills due on august 3. it will simply run out of money
and because we'll be in default and our credit rating trashed, we'll be able to borrow the money not again to keep running, even if we wanted to. that's a picture secretary geithner painted. like i said, it's grim. many of my republican colleagues understand this fact. they know what's at stake. it's not blanket, for sure. but the irresponsible republicans say default would not be an unmitigated disaster for this country either don't know what they're talking about or are twisting the truth for political gain. americans have gotten the message. 71% of the american people disapprove of the way republicans have used this crisis to force an ideological agenda. that's in the press today. even a majority of republicans disapprove of their unreasonable refusal to compromise, which puts our entire nation at risk. those who say this crisis would be a blip on the radar are wrong. default would be a plague that could haunt and would haunt our
nation for years to come. our credit rating would take years to rebuild. the country would never, ever be the same. some will say this is an exaggeration. but it's not. this is what treasury secretary geithner told us. that's what business leaders, congress and rating agencies and bankers have all told us. this country defaults on its obligations, they say, secretary geithner for certain says -- and i quote -- "it will be much worse than the great depressio depression." it would make the massive financial crisis of 2008 look mild. it will make what we just went through look like a quaint little crisis, secretary geithner said. i repeat, it will make what we just went through look like a quaint little crisis. that quaint little crisis led to the loss of almost 5 million american johns -- american jobs, it caused our banking system to
nearly collapse, more than $34 trillion -- mr. president, that's not million, it's not billion, it's trillion -- more than $34 trillion in worth was destroyed in less than two years and the ripples were felt throughout this nation and around the world. the average american family lost $100,000 on its home and stock portfolio alone and 400,000 families were plunged into poverty. that crisis was minor, again, geithner said, compared to the potential fallout from the u.s. default. no one should suggest from what i said secretary geithner thinks what has taken place the wall street collapse is minor. but it's minor compared to what he believes would happen if we defaulted on our debt. the leading business and economic voices of our time said it again and again, the risk of default are unthinkable. it would be a catastrophe. secretary geithner also said we're running out of time to
avoid this iceberg, this huge iceberg, mr. president, is in the ocean and our ship of state is headed toward it. the rating agencies have already placed our triple-a credit rating under review and could downgrade it at any time. this is what secretary geithner said. again, i quote -- "the eyes of the country are on us, the eyes of the world are on us and we need to make sure we stand together and send a beginsive de signal that we're going to take the necessary steps to avoid default." so, mr. president, i ask what it will take my republican colleagues to wake up to the fact that they're playing a game of political chick wen the entire global economy -- chicken with the entire global economy. they must wake up soon, mr. president. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: let me echo the initial remarks of the majority leader with regard to the decision which in this particular instance would agree
was a mutual decision that we need to stay in every day until we resolve this crisis confronting our country. and so i concur with what the majority leader said. we'll stay many here every day, monday through sunday, and get this problem fixed for our -- for our country. mr. reid reid: reid: mr. presidi could -- [inaudible] i would hope the republican leader noted that following the content of my -- the tone and content of my statement where i didn't lump all republicans in one big bundle there. pardon the interruption. mr. mcconnell: i thank my friend, the majority leader. this is a pivotal week for america. two years of reckless spending and debt have brought us to the point of crisis, and this week americans will see how their elected representatives decide to resolve it. on the one side are those who believe that failing to rein in spending now would be calamitous
and that a government which borrows 42 cents for every dollar it spends needs to sober up. washington needs strong medicine to heal its spending addiction now, not a false promise to do it later. and on the other side are those who want to pretend the status quo is acceptable, that everything will be fine if we freeze current spending habits in place, raise job-killing taxes on small businesses, and do nothing about the long-term fiscal imbalance that imperils our economy. now, republicans have tried to persuade the president of the need for a course correction but weeks of negotiations have shown that his commitment to big government is simply too great to lead to the kind of long-term reforms we need to put us on a path to balance and economic growth. so we've decided to bring our case to the american people, and that's why this week republicans in the house and in the senate will push for legislation that
would cut government spending now, cap it in the future, and which only raises the debt limit if it's accomplished -- if it's accompanied by a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. the cut, cap and balance plan is the kind of strong medicine washington needs and the american people want, and republicans in both houses of congress will be pushing it aggressively this week. i heard one of my democratic colleagues say yesterday that the votes simply don't exist to pass any bill in the senate that balances the budget. my question is, why in the world not? if you can't vote for a bill that says you will live within your means, then you've given up and you agree that the unsustainable path is the only one we have. and that's really completely unacceptable. every single republican in the senate supports a balanced budget amendment. all we need is for 20 democrats to join us. and by my count, at least 23 of
them have led their constituents to believe that they'd actually fight for it. so my message to senate democrats this week is this. i would suggest you think long and hard about whether you'll vote for cut, cap and balance legislation that the house is taking up tomorrow. not only is legislation just the kind of thing that washington needs right now, it may be the only option we have if you want to see the debt limit raised at all. the white house has called for a balanced approach in this debate. well, a bill that actually balances our books is coming to the senate floor this very week. i strongly urge my democratic friends to join us in supporting it. some have said they think this bill goes too far. with all due respect, i think most americans believe congress and the white house have gone too far in creating the fiscal mess we're in right now. it's time for real action. it's time to show the american people where we stand. it's time to balance our books.
now, on another matter, mr. president, earlier today the president announced his nominee to run the consumer financial protection board -- bureau. i would remind him that senate republicans still aren't interested in improving anyone -- in approving anyone to the position until the president grays agrees to make this massive new government bureaucracy more accountable and transparent to the american people. 44 republican senators signed a letter to the president stating -- quote -- "we will not support the consideration of any nominee regardless of party affiliation to be the cfpb director until the structure of the consumer financial protection bureau is reformed." and we've been very clear about what these reforms would need to look like. republicans have voiced our serious concerns over the creation of the cfpb because it represents a government-driven solution to a problem government helped create. we have no doubt that without
proper oversight, the cfpb will only multiply the kind of countless, burdensome regulations that are holding our economy back right now and that it will have countless unintended consequences for individuals and small businesses that constrict credit, stifle growth, and destroy jobs. that's why everyone from florists to community bankers oppose its creation in the first place. that's why we'll insist on serious reforms to bring accountability to the agency before we consider any nominee to run it. it took the president a year to nominate someone to this position. i hope he won't wait that long to address our concerns and bring the cfpb the accountability and transparency it currently lacks. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 3:30 p.m.
with the senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii is recognized. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. akaka: mr. president, i rise to speak about the budget and the debt ceiling. following the failure to invoke cloture on a measure expressing that shared sacrifice s from all
americans, including the wealthiest, are unnecessary to reduce the budget deficit, as the senate budget committee chair has proposed, we must reach an agreement that strikes a balance between raising revenues and cutting spending in which all americans contribute to the solution. congress faces a very important task. americans are following this debate because they have a stake in the outcome. if we do not raise the debt ceiling, it will force the government to choose which of its many obligations it will meet. as president obama pointed out last week, we cannot agree -- guarantee that veterans and social security recipients will
receive the checks we owe them on august 3 if we fail to reach a compromise. if we fail, we'll damage our credit rating and worldwide confidence in our financial system. to avoid such a situation, i call on all of my colleagues to negotiate in good faith so that the credit worthiness of the united states is not compromised. i hope we can reach an agreement that will bring down the debt without placing most of the burden on the vulnerable among us: the sick, the poor, the long-term unemployed, and the elderly. mr. president, while we must reduce spending, we cannot
forget to continue investing in our nation's future. i came of age during the great depression and served in world war ii along with my colleagues, senator inouye and senator lautenberg. we were the beneficiaries of one of the federal government's greatest investments, the servicemen's readjustment act of 1944, more commonly known as the g.i. bill. this visionary federal legislation enabled returning world war ii veterans, many who like myself, came from families of modest means and may never have otherwise attended college. the g.i. bill not only changed the lives of its beneficiaries,
it changed the united states while laying the groundwork for the emergence of our middle class, which remains the backbone of our country. many other valuable investments made in the years that followed, such as interstate highway system and federal funding for research programs at the nation's leading universities, propelled america into one of history's greatest periods of economic expansion, social advancement and technological innovations. none of these investments simply happened. they were made by past congresses and presidents from both parties. these legacies have proven repeatedly that dedicated social
and economic investments are effective drivers of a recovery and future success. as we move forward and make difficult but necessary choices to cut spending, we must strengthen those programs that are restoring our economic health. reaching an agreement on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction will undoubtedly require all of us to make difficult compromises in spending and revenues. as debate on these issues continues, i urge each of my colleagues to remember the obligation that we have to preserve the nation's creditworthiness. and to defend our veterans and those depending on social
security and other safety net programs from harm as we continue to make needed investments for recovery. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. kyl: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed
with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kyl: thank you. mr. president, i wanted to speak for just a moment here about the status of the discussions that the members of congress have been having with the president and others regarding the debt ceiling, the extending of the debt ceiling and how we can solve the problem that confronts our country. obviously, in ten minutes, i'm just going to be very brief and hit some of the highlights, but the first question that was asked on a program that i was involved in was, well, why wouldn't republicans be supportive of raising taxes? and i wanted to answer that there are three answers to that question. the first is if you go to the doctor and he's going to treat you for what's wrong with you, he needs to figure out what's wrong with you first and then treat that condition rather than something totally different, and the reason that we're not going to want to raise taxes here is because it has nothing to do with the problem we have. i meant to have this chart actually blown up, but i wasn't able to do that in time here. this shows how much money that we are spending. as you can see, when president
obama came into office, the spending just spiked dramatically to the point that we have historically spent about 20% of the gross domestic product of the country, and now with the obama spending, we have gone straight up to about 25% of our gross domestic product. the problem, in other words, is not taxing. the problem is spending. and that's the first reason we should focus on spending, reduce federal spending and not try to focus on the tax code, which is not the problem. the second problem with raising taxes as a part of this exercise is that the taxes that the president is talking about are not just on millionaires and billionaires. there are 319,000 households that report income of over over $1 million, so you can say 319,000 billionaires or millionaires. but there are 3.6 million
households also in the same tax bracket that don't report incomes of even $1 million. so as we have done before with the alternative minimum tax, for example, we aim at the millionaires and billionaires but we end up hitting a lot of other americans. and so this isn't just about taxing millionaires and billionaires. and who are the other people who would be the target of the tax increases proposed by the president? well, we know that 50% of all of the small business income is reported in those top two brackets. and so the first thing you have to think about here is doing harm to the economy. if you're hitting the small businesses, who, by the way, historically create two-thirds of the jobs coming out of a recession, if you're hitting them with more taxes, you're going to inhibit economic growth. and that's a problem that's recognized even by the obama administration and by the
president. remember last december when he reached agreement with the congress and we extended the existing tax rates, sometimes they're called the bush tax cuts, but those tax rates have been in existence for a decade now and they were extended another two years. and at the time the president said, in time of economic downturn, that's the worst time to raise taxes to we shouldn't do it. well, we're still in an economic downturn. one could say even worse than it was back then. we're now back up to 9.2% unemployment, the economy is not getting better, it's still sick, and the worst medicine for a sick economy, as even the president has said, is a tax increase. one of the taxes that the administration sought to increase was the subject of a report by the obama administration small business agency, the s.b.a., and it said that this particular tax increase -- i'm quoting now -- could ultimately force many small businesses to close." well, why would you propose
raising a tax which could ultimately force many small businesses to close? it doesn't make sense. that's the second reason we're focused on wasteful washington spending, not on raising taxes. the third reason to talk about the problem with raising taxes is related to the second and that is the effect that it would have on job creation and the economy. if you add up the tax rate that will result from the automatic tax increases in january of 2013 and the tax increases that are part of oh bal obama-care, the e in this country will be 48.5 business. corporations pay 35% and they get a lot of deductions so they don't always pay 35%. so here you have a small business person who's paying ten percentage points above what a big corporation pays. and the 35% is too high.
the president himself has said we should get rid of corporate so-called tax expenditures or loopholes so that we can, with that savings, reduce the tax rate in america, something closer to 20% or 25%, which would make american businesses more competitive with our foreign competitors. well, if we need to reduce the corporate rate down to 20% or 25%, it makes absolutely no sense for us to have the small business entrepreneurs in our country paying almost 45%. is that's why we don't want to raise taxes on small businesses. moreover, some of these taxes are not just on those who are in the top two income tax brackets but -- but are in businesses that -- i mentioned the retailers and manufacturers that would be hit with one of the taxes that the s.b.a. says could ultimately force many small businesses to close. so those are the three key reasons why it's not the time to raise taxes, why we ought to be
focused on spending. spending is the problem. it's gone up from 20% to 25% of the gross domestic product in this country. we have a deficit now of $1.5 trillion each of the three years of the obama administration. the obama administration in just five years, if it gets the first year of a second term, in five years would double all of the national debt of this country all the way from george george washington through g.w. bush. so if you -- through george w. bush. so if you take all the presidents an and the debt thate have arequired, in five years, we have dawble doubled it. and in the second five year, have tripled it. that's the problem wealth. it's not taxes, it's spending. secondly, because you're not just hitting millionaires and billionaires. and, third, because it would be very bad for the economy. now, the administration has said well, it's just not fair. we need some shared sacrifice, is their term, some shared
sacrifice, and i've got two answers to that. first of all, how about before we sacrifice, before we ask people to sacrifice, let's get rid of the waste, fraud and abuse and initiate savings that the office of management and budget, the general accounting office, the c.b.o., all of these groups have found exists in our budget if we would just get about it. there is over $100 billion a year that we could save just by not making overpayments or improper payments in medicare, medicaid, and unemployment insurance. just those three alone. in unemployment insurance, $1 out of every $9 is improperly paid out. what's wrong with a government that -- that has that kind of error rate? that's $16.5 billion a year. in medicare, the error rate is over 10.5%. in medicaid, 8.4%.
you could save $87 billion a year just in those two programs. that's well over a hundred billion dollars a year. and what does the administration say to that? no, we don't want to talk about that. that's not shared sacrifice. that's not any sacrifice. you're not taking any benefit away from any beneficiary by just enforcing the law that congress has passed. the administration says, no, doesn't want to talk about those things. and the other reason is -- i'm just asking here -- what percentage is fair? you've got to admit the top 1% of american taxpayers are wealthy people and so they pay twice as much in taxes -- they represent 1% of the taxpayers, of course, so do they pay 2% of the taxes? how about 5%? does the top 1% pay 10% of all the taxes? 20%? 30%? how about 38%? 1% of the people pay 38% of the
taxes in the country. now, i'd call that shared sacrifice. the top 10% pay almost 70%. so how much do you want the top 10% to pay? 80%? 90%? how fair is that, really, when the bottom 50% pay nothing and 30% of them all receive -- well, all of them receive benefits from the government and 30% of them receive an eitc benefit or payments back from the government in some other form directly to them? so you got half the people that pay no federal income taxes, the top 10% pay 70% of all the income tax. now, we've said that's okay. we want to have a progressive tax rate. and the oecd -- these are the developed countries of the world -- have t done a study and they make the point that we have the most progressive income tax system in the world. of all of the developed countries in the world, we make the wealthy pay the most.
we have said that's okay. but how much more can this one group -- they cannot carry the entire government on their back. so it is, frankly, political demagoguery for anybody to suggest that either we can solve the problem by taxing corporate jets or we can solve the problem by having millionaires and billionaires pay more than they already do. that will only get you a little bit. people that end up paying the taxes are the broad middle class. that's the way it always is. and so beware of the politician who says, i'm just going to target the rich. you don't have to worry about it. the -- the tax on millionaires was supposed to hit about 125 milliomillionaires. the a.m.t. it now hits something like, i don't know, somewhere between 20 mill joh20 million and 30 millin americans. so, mr. president, that's why i say we've got to solve the problem. the problem is spending.
it's not revenues. and so when people ask me, well, why aren't you willing to meet the president halfway and agree to raise taxes? those are the three reasons. it would stop our economy from creating the jobs it needs to create in order to get out of this economic doldrum that we're in and begin to produce the economic recovery that produces growth. when you're not working, you're not paying taxes to the federal government. we can pay the federal government a lot more in tax revenues every year if we go back to work and if we're making more money and we're more productive as a country. but as long as we're in the condition we're in right now, the federal rev fuse are going to decline -- revenues are going to decline. and that's the answer, get the economy moving again, and you don't do that by imposing another heavy burden of taxes on it. that's why we have to focus on spending and i hope, mr. president, my colleagues and i can work together in the days to come, reach agreement so that we can actually get this country
moving on a path toward economic recovery and sound fiscal future. mr. president, i note the absence of -- excuse me. mr. webb: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. webb: mr. president, we spend probably the majority of the time when we discuss foreign policy on this floor talking about the crises in places like libya, iraq, afghanistan. if we talk about east asia at all, we generally are discussing our economic situation as it portends to the future, especially with china. but i would like to make a strong point here today and that is if we don't get it right with our relations in east asia, we are in very, very serious trouble as a nation.
and it is vitally important for the united states to continue to invigorate our relations with all the countries in east and southeast asia on a economic, security, and cultural levels. and today i'd like to just talk about a few of these issues that are affecting our relations in that part of the world. this weekend, mr. president, there will be a regional forum for the asean countries in bali. our secretary of state will be there. this for forum is coming at a pivotal moment with respect to our relations in southeast asia and the rest of east asia. the recent provocations by china, military provocations in the philippines and in vietnam and the south china sea, which this body passed a resolution deploring, affect the mood of the entire region at this mome
moment. there also have been political transitions in thailand and in burma, and there are consistent ecological threats in the macong river area because of hydropowerred dam as that have been built upriver beginning in china but now also being proposed in laos. all these issues underscore the need for vigorous multilateral engagement in this part of the world and the development of new strategic relationships and the continuity of balance that the united states has been bringing to this vielg region sinc -- thl region since the end of world war ii. we are going to be reauthorizing a piece of legislation called "the trafficking victims protection act" in this session of congress. i have an amendment to this act. i think it's an extremely important amendment in terms of
our relationship with friends, with allies, particularly in east asia, with representatives of highly developed governmental systems that have a lot of problems with the way that we have implemented this act in the past. i, like everyone here in the senate, fully support the intentions of this legislation and the intentions of the state department to prevent human traffic and to -- and to assist trafficking victims. but under our present policy, we have a great deal of confusion and, quite frankly, resentment from many of these more developed governmental systems. this present policy requires that a country be ranked against the progress it has made in the past year. in other words, a country is ranked against itself over a period of yearly behavior. this practice doesn't provide countries with a consistent
standard by which they might truly measure their efforts against human trafficking versus other countries around the wor world, and it creates a lot of misunderstandings. the criteria used to judge a country's efforts are difficult to estimate with any precision. they're often very subjective. and by placing prosecutions for trafficking as a part of this evaluation over actual successes in areas such as the protection of victims and the prevention of acts in the first place, we get a total misreading of the success that many of these governmental systems actually have been able to bring about. this, mr. president, is a excerpt from a press release that came out of singapore's ministry of foreign affairs on june 28 of this year talking about their ranking under this
traffic in persons report, the t.i.p. report. they say, "we note the united states has again unabashedly awarded itself a tier1 ranking, yet "the new york times" observed --" this is from their press statement -- "that teenage girls coerced into prostitution in the united states are treated not as trafficking victims but as miscreants, who are arrested and prosecuted, instead of protected. this is directly opposite to singapore's approach. the united states also suffers from serious problems with illegal immigrants, many of whom are trafficked by well-organized criminal gangs which seem to operate with impunity." singapore, our friend, our ally and an advanced governmental system by any determination, then says, "on any objective cee tear ya the united states has a more -- criteria, the united states has a more serious t.i.p. problem compared with singapore." why are they angry?
why do they feel they have not been fairly evaluated? because they are evaluated against themselves by standards that may not apply -- and they are not alone; singapore is not alone. the last report showed that nigeria got a tier 1 rating. japan government a tier 2 rating and singapore got a tier 2-watch list rating which means they could be in danger of losing a lot of governmental interactions between our two countries, if it continues. did they rate a tier 2 -- if we had a standard where we were a valuating all countries' systems against one another rather than this approach that we're now using? well, here's agood, objective way to see if we can't answer that question. these are the ratings, worldwide
ratings from an organization called transparency international. this is called a corruption perception index from the same year. let me use a pointer here, mr. president. but -- on the country rankings for corruption perception, internationally, singapore ranks -- is tied for first as the most transparent governmental system. the united states is down here at number 22, again below japan. i mention japan because under this tip system, japan got a tier 2 rating. nigeria is over here tied for 134th. this is not meant to be critical of the attempts of the nigerian governmental system to fix their problems. but, clearly, if we were
evaluating these countries among each other, rather than by this very confusing standard, you wouldn't be seeing singapore with a tier 2-watch list category and nigeria ha as a nur one. so i have a simple amendment, i think a very important amendment to the legislation when it comes forward, and it basically will require the state department to categorize countries, first of all, as either in compliance or not, with our legislation, and then rank countries on a single scale rather than by year-to-year progress against themselves, and to eliminate the special watch list category. it maintains all the other existing criteria that we have used in terms of examining whether or not trafficking in persons is being addressed in these difference countries, the extent to which a country is a
country of origin, transit, or destination, the extent of noncompliance by the governments, including government officials, and what measures are reasonable to bring the government into compliance. this may seem a small matter here on the floor of the united states senate, but i can assure you, mr. president, this is not a small matter in terms of countries that have been our friends and our allies and have advanced governmental systems and feel they are being wrongly -- they are being wrongly categorized for the rest of the world to see. i'd like to raise one other point today, mr. president, with respect to this part of the world, and it goes back to what i said when i first began speaking. regarding issues of sovereignty and freedom of navigation in the south china sea and recent
activities which could quickly reach a level of volatility that we would not like to see and to emphasize again that our country is the number-one reason that we have had the kind of stability that has existed for the most part in this very volatile region since the end of world war ii. the red lines on this map are the areas in which china claims sovereignty in the south china sea. as you can see from these -- from these lines, it goes all the way past the coast of the philippines down into bornea, malaysia, up the coast and into
china. we have seen over many years, the last ten years, we've seen incidents that too often people in the united states, including military officials in the united states, seem to recognize or deal with as tactical challenges rather than strategic datapoints in terms of the ongoing issues of who actually controls these areas. these areas are claimed by many different countries. they are the most highly trafficked sea lanes in terms of trade in the world. just in the last year and a half, we had seen an incident off of the coast of okinawa with a claim between -- a dispute between the japanese and the chinese governments.
we have seen military action -- a military incident, a provocation by the chinese off the coast of the philippines which was protested by the philippines. we have seen two incidents oche the coast of vietnam, one in mei and one in june. and if we look at where these incidents have occurred, they mark the boundaries of the sovereignty claims that have been made by the chinese. this body unanimously passed a resolution condemning this use of military actions in disputes that should be resolved in a multilateral way. i am very hopeful that secretary clinton will reinforce our concerns in this area. when i was on "meet the press" a couple of weeks ago, mr. president, i made a comment where i said we could be
approaching a munich moment in this region. that comment has been widely circulated. lee me explain what i mean -- let me explain what i mean by that. that doesn't mean that i see a hitler out here. that doesn't mean i see a neville chamberlain here. what that means is when you have an expansionist power that is making claims that it owns land in disputed areas and is provoking these other countries through the use of military force, you are reaching the edge of a country unilaterally claiming sovereignty over areas that require multilateral solutions. that is not healthy. it's not healthy internationally. this region historically has been a very volatile region, and the united states is the most important ingredient in making sure that these issues are resolved multilaterally and
without the use of force. i -- again, i strongly hope that our secretary of state will reinforce the comments that she made last year to this effect, that the united states does have a vital interest in resolving these issues in a multilateral way, just as we do, by the way, in resolving the issues with respect to the may congress mek. rather than having a strong, powerful country insisting only on bilateral adjustments with these countries. we are the essential ingredient. no one wants to see this issue go the wrong way. i think we have the potential of resolving this with china and resolving our relationships with the chinese government in a positive way loorksing into the future. but it is going to require clear comments and a credible approach
by the united states government. with that, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: icer: the
senator from south dakota. mr. johnson: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senator is notified that the senate is in a quorum call. mr. johnson: i ask that the quorum call be waived. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. johnson: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: mr. president, i was very pleased as the senate recently acted to confirm the nomination of david cohen to be under secretary of the treasury for treufr -- terrorism and financial crimes. i would like to pose a brief inquiry as a follow-up to the senate's action. for future nominees of the president to the position of secretary, under secretary for
terrorism and financial crimes, would all such nominees be referred under current law and precedent of the senate to the senate committee of banking, housing and urban affairs? thank you, mr. president. mr. president, thursday marks the first anniversary of president obama sending the dodd-frank wall street reform and consumer protection law into law. as chairman of the banking committee, i have a responsibility to oversee implementation of this critical new law. the wall street reform act was a direct response to the worst financial crisis since the great depression. while it appears that many on
wall street and even some here in washington have already forgotten the painful costs of inadequate financial regulations, i have not, and neither have the americans who have lost their jobs, their homes and their savings and who are still waiting for the recovery. the financial crisis didn't just happen by itself. it was a reckless -- it was a result of reckless and irresponsible behavior on wall street by consumer protections and failure by financial regulators to take action even as the warning signs grew ever larger. in response to the devastation, congress passed new financial reforms that created a sound regulatory foundation to protect consumers and help prevent future crisis. however, these reforms have been under constant attack since
their inception. opponents of wall street reform continually repeat misleading claims that the new law was hastily conceived and it will harm our economy. the truth is the wall street reform law is a product of nearly 50 senate hearings and scores more in the house that identified the abuses and loopholes that fueled the catastrophe and helped develop clear proposals to end them. after a long series of hearings that began in 2007 and 2008 with examination of the turmoil in the market, in credit markets and after months of hard work by a bipartisan working group of senators, the banking committee reported out a wall street reform bill that incorporated mainly republican ideas. on the senate floor, the bill
had a thorough debate and an open process that lasted more than three weeks. 56 amendments were considered and 32 amendments were approved, 15 of which were republican-sponsored amendments and 22 were bipartisan amendments. finally the bill was reconciled with the house version at an open conference committee which worked through more than 100 additional amendments. in short, through our work as a bipartisan and transparent process we produced a comprehensive reform bill that at times demanded -- that the times demanded and the american people deserved. the wall street reform law enhances consumer protections to help ensure people can make financial decisions with honest information and it routes out
predatory lenders who fueled the subprime market bubble. the reforms we passed one year ago will no longer allow the shadow banking system that nearly destroyed our economy to continue to escape the light of day. the wall street reform law also enhances investor protections. mr. president, during the financial crisis, investors suffered numerous losses when their retirement accounts or other assets were decimated. some had invested in companies with compensation systems that encouraged executives to take on unmanageable risks. some rely on mutual funds or pension funds that bought
mortgage-backed securities based on predatory loans that borrowers could not repay. new rereforms will enhance transparency, increase accountability and allow oversight of previously hidden parts of the financial system. unfortunately, some powerful wall streeters are trying to rewrite history. they claim new regulations are burdensome and will hurt the bottom line and the economy. mr. president, gutless decisions hurt the economy but many executives apparently have forgotten that the only reason they are still in business is that the american taxpayer saved them. now many of these financial institutions have nearly fully recovered while main street
continues to pay the price for those bad decisions and inadequate regulations. the wall street reform act established responsible rules to make our financial system work for the benefit of all americans so that we never return to the days of too-big-to-fail bailouts, back room derivatives deals, predatory subprime mortgages and the threat of economic collapse. passing the wall street reform act was a monumental achievement, but there is much work left to be done. now the financial regulators, the experts who have made it their life's work to understand those issues, must work to write rules and implement these reforms. this will take time, and we must get it right. if the attacks on the law and
its implementation are successful in weakening or eliminating these new protections, our economy will once again be at risk. since i became chairman earlier this year, the banking committee has held more than 25 hearings and bipartisan briefings on financial reform. we are exercising our oversight authority following the regulators' progress closely and are commited to seeing the process of reforming wall street through to completion. we all remember the economic nightmare we lived through three years ago, and we should never forget it. that is why i take my responsibility as chairman of the banking committee so seriously. i'm fully committed to helping ensure congress does its part to hold our regulators accountable
and to providing americans with a financial system they can trust. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. johnson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: mr. president, --
the presiding officer: morning business is now closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 2055 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 91, h.r. 2055, an act making appropriations for military construction, the department of veterans affairs and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2012, and for other purposes. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the bill be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: mr. president, as the senate resumes consideration of the f.y. 2012 military construction, veterans affairs and related agencies appropriations bill, i would like to remind my colleagues of the important programs funded in this bill. this bill funds the
infrastructure that is the backbone of our military, the facilities in which our troops work and train and live and the facilities that support their families, including family housing, schools, hospitals and childcare centers. it also funds the medical care and benefits promised to the nation's vets as they -- a sacred trust we must not fail to honor. this is a bipartisan bill that was reported unanimously out of the appropriations committee. as i have said before, the bill is balanced, disciplined and responsible. mr. president, two amendments to this bill are currently pending and several others have been filed. if my colleagues have additional amendments that they wish to offer to the bill, i would
encourage them -- encourage them to file those amendments without delay or call them up if they wish a vote. my staff and senator kirk's staff is available to work with members to clear amendments, if possible. there are a lot of things going on in washington this week, but they need not distract from the disposition of this bill. i would urge my colleagues to bring any amendments they have to the floor so that we can act on them and move quickly to a vote on final passage. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
quorum call: n: mr. president?
the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota.
mr. johnson: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: mr. president, what is the pending amendment? the presiding officer: the johnson amendment. mr. johnson: mr. president, i ask that the amendment, number 556, be modified with the modifications at the desk. the presiding officer: the amendment is so modified. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that senator mccaskill be added as a cosponsor to the amendment. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorumcall: quorum call: from illinois.
mr. harkin: i ask to suspend the quorum call. mr. kirk: i ask unanimous consent that joel garrison be granted floor privileges during the consideration of h.r. 2055. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kirk: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: york.
mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: the senator is correct.
mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, it is my distinct honor to rise in support of paul oetken's confirmation to the bench of the southern district of new york. we have a very deep pool of legal talent in new york, but paul's nomination is one that everybody is talking about. paul is brilliant, well-rounded, unwavering in his dedication to public service and his commitment to rule of law. his confirmation will only improve the workings of one of the best and bussiest courts in the country. i look for three qualities in judicial candidates -- excellence, moderation, diversity. paul's excellence is provable on paper. he's a graduate of the university of iowa and yale law school and has worked in the highest echelons of two of the three branches of government, including for the office of legal counsel at the department of justice and for supreme court
justice harry blackmon. he has also climbed the ranks of private legal practice, serving most recently as the head of litigation for a large new york media company, cablevision, one of our fine companies in new york. i consider a broad range of experiences to be an important training ground for teaching judicial candidates the second quality i look for -- moderation. i do not like judges who tend to be too far to the right, but i do not like judges who come from a perspective that is too far left either. paul oetken fits the bill of a mainstream moderate judge. his moderation and modesty were evident during his confirmation hearing and are clear to all who know him. when judges have in their resume practical experience dealing with real-world problems, they tend to understand that a judge cannot simply impose things from
on high without understanding the effect of imposing those decrees on average people, average businesses, average governments. when a candidate has these two qualities, excellence and moderation, diversity is a bonus, but in this case, at this moment, paul is not just an excellent candidate. as the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge and to serve on the federal bench, he will be a symbol of how much we have achieved as a country in just the last few decades. and importantly, he will give hope to many talented young lawyers who until now thought their paths might be limited because of their sexual orientation. when paul becomes judge oetken, he will be living proof to all those young lawyers that it really does get better,
mr. president. paul oetken's modest but brave act of going through the confirmation process makes this otherwise quiet moment historic. but long after today, what the history books will note about paul or his achievements as a fair and brilliant judge. mr. president, in a short while, our country will take one step closer towards equality and away from bigotry and prejudice. i am very proud to have played a supporting role in this, and i look forward to paul oetken's service on the bench in the southern district of new york. often quoted but still one of my favorites is what martin luther king often said. he said "the arc of history is long but it bends in the direction of justice." paul oetken's nomination to the federal bench proves that point once again. i yield the floor and